Martin Gardner's Favorite Poetic Parodies

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Martin Gardner
Prometheus Books, 2001 - Literary Criticism - 245 pages
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Some famous poems ache to be parodied. In school they were forced down our throats, and though we can still remember a verse or two, their greatness may have escaped us. Take, for instance, Longfellow's famous "The Village Blacksmith":

Under a spreading chestnut-tree The village smithy stands; The smith, a mighty man is he With large and sinewy hands . . . .

Most of us have heard it, and may be able to recite a few verses. But many may prefer "The Minnesota Wrestler" by Armand T. Ringer:

Under the spreading repartee The St. Paul wrestler stands. The Body, a mighty man is he, With large and sinewy hands. . . .

Ventura's hair, once black and long, Departed long ago; His brow was wet with honest sweat When he worked as a wrestling pro.

Even original wits can set themselves up for later parody. When Dorothy Parker wrote, "Men seldom make passes/At girls who wears glasses," could she have foreseen this later take-off by Bob McKenty? "Men often get amorous/With gals who are mammarous."

Whether you love poetry or just don't get it, you will love these often hilarious poetic parodies. Martin Gardner has assembled his favorites, many by famous authors in their own right (Robert Sherwood, G.K. Chesterton, A.E. Housman, Bret Harte). Gardner does us the favor of putting the original poems first, followed by their parodies, thus providing a sampling of some of the best-known poems in English while demonstrating how easily the profound can be made to look ridiculous.

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Contents

Introduction
13
Rock Me to Sleep
19
The Golf Links
25
To a Fat Lady Seen From the Train
33
The House By the Side of the Road
39
Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
45
It Couldnt Be Done
49
Trees
65
Excelsior
83
The Day is Done
99
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

Martin Gardner, the creator of Scientific American's "Mathematical Games" column, which he wrote for more than twenty-five years, is the author of almost one hundred books, including The Annotated Ancient Mariner, Martin Gardner's Favorite Poetic Parodies, From the Wandering Jew to William F. Buckley Jr., and Science: Good, Bad and Bogus. For many years he was also a contributing editor to the Skeptical Inquirer.

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